Seed Library could expand to countywide program

The warmth of spring is upon Kitsap County, giving residents a reason to begin tending to their gardens once again.

While many will end up buying their seeds from local stores, those living in South Kitsap need look no further than their local library to get started as the Seed Library returns to Port Orchard and Manchester for the 2023 season.

The Seed Library, introduced to Port Orchard in 2016 and brought over to Manchester in 2020, has remained a South Kitsap exclusive throughout past years but could eventually become a county-wide program.

“Other library branches are currently looking to implement this service soon,” said KRL South Kitsap regional manager Kathleen Wilson. “Bainbridge Island had KRL’s first seed library, but it was more informal and mostly run by volunteers. That seed library has been inactive for several years.”

In contrast to the library’s typical books, games and music, there is no return required for those looking to partake, as the commercially packaged seeds are generously donated to the library by seed companies.

“In 2021 we had a significant donation of commercially packaged seeds from Helpline, and we still had some of these left to distribute into 2022,” Wilson said. “This year we are relying entirely on donations from the seed companies themselves, and they’ve been really generous to our program. We’ve had donations from High Mowing Organic Seeds, West Coast Seeds, Hudson Valley Seed Company, and Seed Savers Exchange.”

The high volume of donations has led to thousands of readily available seeds throughout the growing season. Wilson said peas and lettuce seeds are typically the first to be distributed, with a large selection of flowers and vegetation to follow. This includes several varieties of carrots, tomatoes, lettuce, peppers and more. Even the bigger seeds like potatoes, berry bushes and more get requested by library visitors.

Surveys conducted by KRL have found a wide variety of benefits for the Seed Library, including free access to a larger variety of seeds, growing food to eat or donate and both learning and teaching opportunities.

“It has made a direct impact on many patrons’ lives by not just providing food but also memories as many parents plant the seeds with their children as an activity,” Wilson added.

As for when to grab your packets of seeds, Wilson said it’s up to each person on what they want to grow and when they want to get started.

“Patrons can come in during library hours and take up to 20 seed packets, 5 flower seed packets, all at once or throughout the growing season,” she said. “Everyone on staff works to keep the seed library stocked for as long as we can, usually closing the seed library in mid-July when we run out of seeds for that year.”